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Can you believe that 2014 is drawing to a close? It’s almost the end of September and the holiday season is already being celebrated at the big box stores. I’m in partial denial about the whole thing, to be truthful, and crossing my fingers that time slows down just a little while I spend the holidays with my family (which includes my adorable nephews and niece).

In a way, I actually have magical powers to weld over time. You do too. It’s called a camera and almost everybody in America has one in their pocket. We snap photos of our food, our adventures, our favorite movies and the crazy cute antics the kids get up to when nobody thinks they are looking. These photos record a lot about our lives, but I’ve found that they miss one thing – the person behind the camera. It’s hard to capture images of the whole family interacting with each other when one member has to be behind the lends.

The end of year season gives us a great excuse for putting our cameras down, spending a little extra time on our hair, and boldly stepping in in front of the camera.To have a tangible record of the way you love your family is a truly selfless act…I get that it’s difficult to get everything in place to hire a photographer… but it’s something that will last a lot longer than the fancy Thanksgiving dinner and the perfectly decorated Christmas tree. Photos last for generations.

I’m rambling a bit because I believe so much in the need for images that show the love a family has for each other. Call me a sap if you will, but I want you to have a series of photos that really reflect the best parts of who you are. This season, I’ve set aside a set of days to do just that. I’m calling them my Winter Sessions, and this is the second year I’m offering them.

The Winter Sessions are thirty minute family photo sessions that focus on recording the relationships bound up in the family. We’ll get a couple of photos were everyone is smiling and looking at the camera, but I also want your future generations to know that in 2014, we had dance parties and played games, we hugged and kissed and tickled, we swung our children in the air and we never thought twice about saying “I love you”.

After your photo session, I’ll deliver a curated and fully edited set of images to you in a Pinterest style gallery – those images are yours to use and share as you wish. Send them to grandma, make a photo blanket, download the photos on every computer you own and put them in frames all over the house. The more you see your photos, the greater the value they’ll hold in your heart.

As if that weren’t enough, I also want to encourage you to get your images off a screen and into beautiful books, canvases and prints. To do that, I’m gifting a $45 dollar gift card to every family that I photograph this season. You can use that credit through your gallery of images to order a whole bunch of stuff without having to upload any images – you can even order them from your phone!

Let’s get together this year and make your family photos a thing to be excited about!

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Holly Smith is the very talented photographer behind Delona Photography in Clovis, CA. She’s very gracious and a good friend, but that didn’t calm the nervous jitters I had while photographing her family. It’s a stressful thing to photograph another photographer. You don’t believe it till it actually happens to you and all of a sudden you start questioning every thing you normally do and wondering if it’s the “right way”. Somehow I made it through to the other side with a bazillion gorgeous images of this family. Granted, they are ridiculously photogenic and that helped my poor shaky hands out a lot.

I was staying over with the family, so I got to shoot a few “getting ready” shots as the girls introduced me to all their balloon friends and had their hair done. I liked the in house feel … I have a feeling we’ll be doing a lifestyle photo session in their home soon.

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Kearney Park was the location we chose… strictly from word of mouth and a quick Google maps search. Can I just take a moment to thank Google maps from the bottom of my heart? A daily lifesaver for sure! Besides having a natural atmosphere, Kearney had a few more things essential to a great photoshoot:

  1. Gorgeous golden sunlight.
  2. A crazy awesome mansion with a covered porch and grey walls. (no color casts from these walls)
  3. Cool trees that lit up with the sun.
  4. A plastic sunflower that we found in the grass.
  5. and last, and certainly least, little midgies that kept us moving along at a productive rate.

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You may remember Alex and Hannah from their STUNNING engagement photos at El Matador beach earlier this year. This is a couple that sits close to my heart, and I was so thrilled to photograph their wedding in June.

For starters, the bride and her ladies got ready in the home of childhood friend, and bridesmaid, Amanda. The atmosphere was so relaxed as the girls crowded around the master bath mirrors to apply their makeup. The upstairs was filled with laughter and upbeat music, while downstairs in the kitchen there was enough food to feed the girls for days. I loved that the mother-of-the-bride chose to get ready with the bridesmaids!

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An hour before she had to leave for the ceremony, the bride was joined by her immediate family for a few formal photos before the rush of friends and family.

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The groom and his gentlemen got ready at the wedding location – the Straethern Historical Park. We walked around the grounds to shoot some photos of them before the bride arrived. It was all fun and games until we accidentally set off  an alarm in the Barber Shop. It was all we could do not to run away laughing like little kids caught were we shouldn’t be.

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The park itself is absolutely gorgeous. A true Southern Californian location, with cacti and lots of sand and rocks, the location also managed to maintain several gardens full of brightly colored flowers. Hannah has excellent taste, and had worked hard to decorate the location with hand painted signs, birdcages full of flowers, lawn games, burlap, books and vintage treasures.

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When Hannah arrived, she found an outfit bought and laid out for her by the groom, along with the sweetest note full of encouragements. He had remembered a passing comment she had made months earlier about how cute the idea was, and of course, being the romantic guy he is, he had to do it.

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Hannah had texted me a few days before the wedding to make sure I photographed Alex when she walked down the aisle. She knew he was going to cry, and that the moment would pass too fast for her to remember it all. She looked stunning walking arm and arm with her dad, beaming with excitement for the commitment she was about to make to the love of her life!

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AND THEY ARE MARRIED! With the ceremony over, it’s time to take a lot of photos, eat, drink, listen to speeches, hug everyone and dance!

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How awesome is this? In-N-Out for dinner!

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One of Hannah’s friends made this beautiful (and delicious) wedding cake. But seriously, it tasted just as good as it looks.
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One of my favorite traditions, is to bring all the father-daughters and mother-sons on to the dance floor halfway through their respective songs. Even as the photographer, I tear up a little watching the relationships on the dance floor. If you have a wedding with a lot of family members, I would highly recommend doing this too.

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Congratulations Mr. and Mrs. Gerbrandt. I hope newly married life is as full of love, sweet tears, laughter, dancing, Jesus and food as your wedding was.

 
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